NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) today met with several New Jersey families who have received their first ever, enhanced monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments to discuss how their lives are impacted and to push Congress to extend the federal program benefiting 82% of New Jersey children and cutting child poverty in half.
Monthly payments of up to $300 per child under six and up to $250 per child under 18 began going out last Thursday, making the enhanced CTC the largest single anti-poverty initiative the country has undertaken in generations. It was included in the American Rescue Plan that Democrats in Congress passed in March without a single Republican vote.
“For parents with a newborn at home and a toddler in daycare, that’s $600 a month to help pay for diapers, strollers, baby formula, food, and child care and all the other expenses that go into raising young children. And for children between six and 17 years of age, that $250 monthly payment may go toward new clothes, a laptop or even just saving up for college,” said Sen. Menendez. “This is a truly historic moment that will help level the playing field for children who do not grow up with all of the advantages enjoyed by children born into wealthy families... Now, Democrats are working to make these monthly payments permanent.”
“The expanded child tax payments are one of the most transformative anti-poverty policies that has come out of Washington in decades,” said Sen. Booker. “These payments will make a direct and immediate impact in the lives of families and working people across our state, help our nation cut child poverty in half, and bring urgently needed economic relief to New Jerseyans. As we celebrate this historical investment, I will continue working alongside colleagues to make sure the child tax credit expansion is made permanent so that its promise is realized for generations to come.”
The U.S. Treasury last week sent $373,155,000 in CTC payments to the families of 1,550,000 qualifying New Jersey children. Over 65 million American children and their families benefit from the enhanced Child Tax Credit, which alone is estimated to cut the national child poverty rate nearly in half and lift 89,000 New Jersey children out of poverty.
Sens. Menendez and Booker are pushing to extend the enhanced CTC beyond this year as part of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, a framework of which was released last week, with the ultimate goal of making the benefit permanent.
The senators visited the Boys & Girls Club of Newark where they met with New Jersey families who described how the enhanced CTC is helping them pay for their children’s child care, education, health care needs, and other expenses; give parents the added financial cushion to pursue a new degree or training to increase their job prospects; improve their housing situation; make purchases they otherwise couldn’t afford, which helps support local businesses and stimulate the economy; and improve their overall quality of life.
“We just got our first monthly Child Tax Credit payment of $500—$250 a month for each of my boys. I can’t tell you how much this means to our family. And now being able to get these payments monthly really helps us meet our expenses,” said Stacey Ragin of Newark, who has an eight- and nine-year-old. “Like many other children, my sons had remote learning for over a year, and did not get to see their friends and family members due to COVID. My sons suffered as a result of the shutdown, again, like many other children in this state. My oldest began showing symptoms of anxiety every time I left the house. So, I am using the Child Tax Credit to send them to a summer camp this year that will help them start to socialize again and receive academic enrichment. This is so important because of what they missed this past year.
“I received my first payment of $750, and I, like many families in the U.S., am counting on that money,” said Jennifer Crowell of Mays Landing, a mother of four with three eligible children under 18, who recently left a higher paying but dead end job for a new job that pays less now but offers more opportunities for advancement. “That decision was not easy, but knowing that I have the monthly Child Tax Credit payments provides me some comfort knowing that will help close the gap in my wages until my hard work and determination can take my salary back up to what it was. Monthly payments make sense for American families, many of whom struggle to pay expenses.”
“I will be able to use these payments to pay for childcare and other household expenses that otherwise we would problems being able to afford. In years past I have taken on additional debt towards the end of the year anticipating a refund from the IRS. Now with this imaginative legislation I will be able to work within my budget a little easier,” said Tim Fallon of New Brunswick, a single father of a ten-year-old son with special needs. “I applaud the work of our Senators and I am hopeful that we will continue to be aided with their wise leadership well into the future and I thank them again for service to the working people of our great State and our Country.”
“The Child Tax Credit means a lot to me and my family right now as I was forced to take a medical leave of absent from my full time job back in March of this year,” said Jessica Vargas of Newark, a mom of four children under 18. “In the beginning I was financially ok as I had some money saved up but then as time is going by I went from being financially ok to an extremely tight budget. So, the fact that the child tax credit was approved and sent out the way they said it was going to happen just took a huge load off of my shoulders, because I can continue to pay my bills and keep providing my kids with the food and shelter they need.”
"The expanded Child Tax Credit is providing much needed financial help to working parents in New Jersey, lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty. We need to make this historic change permanent for it to have a lasting impact," said Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) Vice President Mary Coogan.
“As a New Jersey mom, I know the expanded Child Tax Credit is smart, effective policy that is going to provide a much-needed boost to families in our state, many of whom are struggling due to the pandemic,” said S. Nadia Nussain, Senior Campaign Director of MomsRising, the on-the-ground and online organization with more than a million members. “We’re so grateful to Senators Booker and Menendez for being champions for this tax credit! Moms and families will use it to cover child care, rent, food, school supplies, transportation and other necessities. Those needs aren’t going to disappear at the end of the year, so the expanded Child Tax Credit shouldn’t, either. That’s why Moms are urging Congress to make it permanent.”
"The child tax credit is vital for an economic recovery for all of us, not just those at the top. With the CTC, millions of children, in particular children of color and from mixed status immigrant families, will be lifted out of poverty. We thank Senators Booker and Menendez for delivering on this crucial win for working families and urge Congress to fight to make the credit permanent," said Sara Cullinane, director of Make the Road New Jersey.
"The mission of Boys & Girls Club of Newark is to enable all Newark's youth to become caring, productive, and responsible citizens. Our motto is great futures start here. While children are our focus, we help young people become great by supporting families. Throughout the pandemic, BGCN has assisted families by helping parents return to the workforce by providing a safe space for their children,” said Ameer Washington, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Newark. “The Child Tax Credit will help our families address the challenges their families are facing today. Pressing needs require pressing action, and we are grateful for the work our representatives have done to help take care of Newark's families."
Under the American Rescue Plan, the annual CTC
was expanded to $3,600 for each child under the age of six and $3,000 for
children under 18 years of age. This assistance is fully refundable for
low-income parents, and for the first time, eligible families are receiving
monthly payments instead of an annual lump sum when they file their taxes,
helping parents keep up with expenses and better provide for their children.